January 5 , 2008

Riveted Top Skins on! - 8.5 hrs.

Today was a huge day. The kind of day you look forward to for months. The only small task remaining in preparation for riveting on the top skins was to clean and prime the scarf joints. Then, my son Daniel helped me pull the vinyl off the inside of the skins, cleco in place, and rivet it all together.

Update: 8-31-2009 You may have noticed that I didn't prime the insides of my wing skins. I debated this in my mind for a long time, and finally decided to put my confidence in the alclad surfaces. This was based on everything I read, and even talked about with some of the guys at Van's. I was very careful not to scratch or harm the alclad. I even avoided fingerprints and left the vinyl on as long as possible. I have now come to believe that this was a big mistake. I admit it. I drank the kool-aid. Here I am having classic primer wars... with myself! I should have kept in closer touch with my technical advisor. If any of you have doubts about whether or not you should prime the insides of the skins, or anything else for that matter, check out the corrosion showing on this guys unpainted RV-8 . So anyway, before riveting the bottom skins on, while I still had access to the insides of the wing, I took great pains to clean, scuff, and prime the insides of the top skins. Not an easy task, but I got it done. Read more about it on my log page for Sept. 4. 2008.

Here's Daniel, putting some rivet tape over the end of the bucking bar. He quickly discovered that by putting the tape on the bucking bar instead of over each rivet, it saved a lot of time and worked just as good. This was his last day at home before going back to college after the holiday break, so I was very happy to spend some time with him on the project. I couldn't have done this without his help, and we had fun together. Thanks, Daniel!

I used the backriveting method to rivet the top skins on, and here are my weapons of choice. This double-offset extended backriveting set is from Avery Tools. It's the perfect tool for this job and we got awesome results from it! Every rivet comes out picture-perfect. I think I only drilled out one rivet on the whole wing surface, when Daniel didn't hold the bar against it firmly enough. I shot the rivets from behind while Daniel bucked them from the front. After trying several bucking bars, including my little tungsten bar, this turned out to be his favorite. Easier to hang onto, I guess. The "foot" end on the right side in the picture above worked real well for him.

Here's Daniel, bucking the rivets on the front side. We got a rhythm going and really got on a roll when we got into it. He would pull clecoes and insert each rivet. I would put the rivet set on and push gently so he would know I'm on the rivet and I would know he's pushing back. Thsi Below, I'm shooting the rivets from the back side.

Incidentally, I've noticed that some builders don't have good success with this backriveting method. I discovered a few things that I should mention. First, you have to turn the air pressure way up on the rivet gun. While I normally use about 32 - 34 lbs. of air pressure for 3/32" rivets, I found that I needed at least 60 lbs. and I could even use 70 lbs. of pressure with this rivet set. I couldn't believe it at first. That much air pressure would smash a rivet paper thin in a moment with a normal rivet set. But think about it... this rivet set is not only long, it's heavy. You're moving a lot more steel and a lot more mass each time the rivet gun hammers a blow. It's going to take more power to do that. So turn up the air, and it will work just great. Also, note how I'm using my left hand to hold the rivet set and my right hand on the trigger. This rivet set has a tendency to rotate while you're hammering away if you don't hold it firmly. Not only can you keep it from rotating by holding on to it, but you're more accurate and stay on target.

Here are a couple of shots showing the nice bucktails on the inside.

It really looks good to see a rivet in every hole... no more empty holes in here!

I was able to use my squeezer to do the horizontal row along the bottom and finish it up. All done... No more clecos! This wing is now ready to be lifted out of the jig and put in the storage cradle. I'll obviously need some help for that.

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